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Results of the Champagne Masters released

The results of db‘s first Champagne Masters competition has highlighted the impressive quality-to-price ratio available in the vintage category.

A flight of 13 vintage Champagnes yielded five Masters – the competition’s highest accolade – and four gold medals, with those from the 2000 and 2002 harvests scoring particularly highly.

Among the Masters were the relatively inexpensive Champagne de Castelnau 2000 and Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut Millésime 2002, a house owned by Lanson International.

In the non-vintage category over £30, the Besserat de Bellefon brand also performed well, gaining the only gold in this category for its Cuvée des Moines Extra Brut.

The special blend was first introduced in 1930 as Champagne to accompany food, and has a slightly lower pressure with small, fine bubbles, while the Extra Brut is a more recent edition to the range, with a lower dosage.

Among the non-vintage Champagnes below £30, it was the Sunday Times Wine Club Brut that gained a gold, along with Piper-Heidsieck, Jacquart’s Brut Mosaique and Jean Moutardier’s cuvée Carte d’Or.

The latter wine, containing as much as 80% Pinot Meunier, proves the potential of this grape, which in the right sites, and with careful management, can produce Champagnes of great quality, despite its reputation as a lesser component in the blend.

However, the highest scores of the day were awarded to two wines in the prestige cuvée category, and it was the oldest wine of the tasting, Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995, which received a unanimous Master rating, as well as Deutz’s Cuvée Amour de Deutz 2002.

The latter award was testament to both the quality of this Champagne house and the vintage – it was a harvest that produced wines of both richness and refinement.

Elsewhere, interestingly, the rosé category, which is so popular among consumers worldwide, yielded fewer top medals, with the Deutz Cuvée William performing the best, with a silver, along with Meunier & Cie – a NV rosé that stood out for its freshness and intensity.

Overall, the quality of the Champagnes was extremely high, and the concentration of Masters in the vintage sub-category showed how much added richness and character there is for a relatively small rise in price – vintage Champagnes tend to average around £10 more than the non-vintage entry point to the brand.

Nevertheless, sadly, this is still a part of Champagne that seems little understood, or widely demanded, with the pretty pink of rosé and show of prestige cuvée more enticing for those willing to spend large sums on their bubbly.

The judges

The judges were selected for their general wine tasting experience, high regard in the trade, as well as their expertise in the Champagne sector. We chose a range of personalities to reflect different sectors, be it the on-trade and off-trade, mainstream retail and specialist independent, as well as fine wine. We also invited Michael Edwards to join the panel, a respected and award-winning Champagne writer and contributor to the drinks business.

The judges were:

Patrick Schmitt, editor, the drinks business
Anthony Foster MW, director/buyer, Bonhote Foster
Helen McEvoy, senior buyer, Laithwaites Wine
Michael Edwards, journalist/ Champagne expert
Nicola Arcedeckne-Butler MW, buying director, Private Cellar (chair)
Christine Parkinson, group wine buyer, Hakkasan
Marcel Orford Williams, wine/Champagne buyer, The Wine Society
Jamie Hutchinson, owner, The Sampler
Emma Dawson, wine buyer, Marks & Spencer

The results in full:

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Non Vintage (Non vintage £30+)

Company Product name Award
Lanson International Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Extra Brut Gold
P & C Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Silver
Laurent-Perrier Laurent-Perrier Brut Silver
Gosset Grande Réserve Brut Silver
Lanson International Tsarine Cuvée Premium Brut Silver
Lanson International Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Blanc de Blancs Silver
Lanson International Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut Silver
Meunier & Cie Meunier & Cie Brut Bronze
Pannier Champagne Pannier Extra-Brut Exact Bronze
Deutz Champagne Deutz Brut Classic Bronze
Perrier Jouët Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Bronze
Lanson International Champagne Lanson Black Label Brut Bronze
R.C. Lemaire Champagne R.C. Lemaire Cuvée Trianon Bronze
Taittinger Taittinger Brut Réserve Bronze

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Non Vintage (£20-£30)

P & C Heidsieck Piper-Heidsieck Brut Gold
Jacquart Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique Gold
Direct Wines Sunday Times Wine Club Brut NV Gold
Jean Moutardier Moutardier Cuvée Carte d’Or Gold
Pannier Champagne Pannier Brut Selection Bronze
Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV Commended
Champagne H. Blin Champagne H. Blin Brut Commended
The Wine Society The Society’s Champagne Brut Commended
Jean Moutardier Moutardier Cuvée selection brut Commended

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Vintage (£30+)

Company Product name Award
P & C Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck Brut Millésimé 2000 Master
P & C Heidsieck Piper-Heidsieck Millésimé 2004 Master
The Wine Society Alfred Gratien Brut Millésimé 1999 Master
Coopérative Regionale des Vins de Champagne Champagne de Castelnau 2000 Master
Lanson International Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Brut Millésimé 2002 Master
Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvée Speciale Millésimé 2004 Gold
Perrier Jouët Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2004 Gold
Lanson International Champagne Lanson Gold Label Millésimé 1999 Gold
Laurent-Perrier Laurent-Perrier Vintage 2002 Gold
GH Mumm G.H. Mumm Brut Millésimé 2004 Silver
Champagne Jacquart Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2005 Silver
Deutz Champagne Deutz Brut 2006 Silver

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Vintage (£20-£30)

Champagne H Blin Champagne Blin Edition Limited 2002 Bronze
Paul Goerg Paul Goerg 2004 Premier Cru Bronze
Jean Moutardier Moutardier Cuvée Millésimé 2004 Bronze

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Rosé (£30+)

Company Product name Award
Deutz Cuvée William Deutz Rosé 2000 Silver
Meunier & Cie Meunier & Cie Rosé Brut Silver
Pannier Champagne Pannier Rosé Velours Bronze
P & C Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck Rosé Reserve Bronze
P & C Heidsieck Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage Bronze
Perrier Jouet Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé Bronze
G.H.Mumm G.H. Mumm Rosé Bronze
Laurent-Perrier Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Bronze
Lanson International Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Rosé Brut Bronze
Lanson International Tsarine Rosé Brut Bronze
Lanson International Champagne Lanson Rosé Label Brut Bronze
Jacquart Champagne Jacquart Rosé Commended
Coopérative Regionale des Vins de Champagne Champagne de Castelnau Rosé Commended

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Prestige Cuvée

Company Product name Award
P & C Heidsieck Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995 Master
Deutz Cuvée Amour de Deutz Brut 2002 Master
Pannier Champagne Egerie de Pannier Gold
Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Vintage 1999 Gold
P & C Heidsieck Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millésimé 2002 Gold
Jacquart Champagne Jacquart Brut de Nominée Gold
Philipponnat Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2000 Gold
Taittinger Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 Gold
G.H.Mumm Cuvée Rene Lalou 1999 Silver
Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle by Laurent-Perrier Grande Cuvée Silver
Lanson International Champagne Lanson Extra Age Brut Silver


About the Champagne Masters

The Champagne Masters is a competition conceived and managed by the drinks business and an extension of its successful Masters series for spirits. The competition is exclusively for Champagne and in 2011, the first year of the Champagne Masters, almost 100 entries were judged by a selection of highly experienced tasters using Riedel Chianti/Riesling glasses supplied by Sensible Wine Services (see above for the list of judges). The top Champagnes were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those Champagnes that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Champagne Master. The Champagnes were tasted over the course of one day at the Institute of Masters of Wine’s offices in Fitzroy Square, London, W1.

Design and Packaging

As part of the inaugural Champagne Masters competition we also distributed awards to those products which entered a category based entirely on the look of the bottle, not the taste of the product. This aspect of the awards, dubbed “design and packaging”, saw judges score the Champagnes for “shelf stand-out” as well as suitability for their target audience and the attractiveness of the design. Finally, judges were asked to assess the quality of the execution, including foils, paper feel and weight, and how well labels and finishes were applied. Lanson’s recently redesigned rosé was deemed the most outstanding of the entries, and scored highly for its quality and standout, as well as its obvious appeal to women, the core target market of non-vintage rosé. This Champagne house’s much more masculine Extra Age also scored well for its finish and striking, upmarket appearance. Meanwhile, Pannier’s elegant skittle-shaped bottles were widely praised for their luxury feel.

CHAMPAGNE MASTERS 2011: Design & Packaging

Product Name Award
Jacquart Rosé Bronze
Pannier Rosé Velours Silver
Egerie de Pannier Silver
Pannier Brut Sélection Silver
Pannier Extra Brut Silver
Lanson Extra Age Brut Gold
Lanson Rose Label Brut Master

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